Social Security boost for some feds

For the first time in nearly 30 years, groups representing active and retired feds think they have a realistic shot at modifying a law that eats into the Social Security benefit of feds and retirees under the old Civil Service Retirement System.

In Washington political circles, where what’s-in-a-name counts, the so-called Windfall Elimination Provision would be “reformed” by the enactment of the proposed Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act. That’s WEP and ETPSA. Get it? Windfall, bad. Equal Treatment, good!

The WEP provision reduces the Social Security benefits earned by state, county, municipal and federal employees who also worked in the private sector (before, after or during their federal service time) who also receive an annuity from (non-Social Security covered) government employment. Since the introduction of the FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) 30 years ago, federal and postal employees pay into Social Security as well as the civil service retirement fund. But workers and retirees under the old CSRS plan often get greatly reduced Social Security benefits because of the WEP law.

Pro-fed groups have been fighting WEP since it became law. But without success. This year, they think, may be different. Reason: the ETPSA bill (H.R. 711) was introduced in the House by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). Brady has two big pluses. First, he’s a Republican. In the past, anti-WEP forces have had trouble rounding up GOP supporters. Even more important is the fact that Brady is chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee which, among other things, has jurisdiction over Social Security.

The proposed modification to the WEP law has important financial implications for feds who have or will turn age 62 this year. Their Social Security benefit reduction would be less for most people in that age group. It would also increase the monthly benefit of many if not most people turning 62 next year by an average of about $77 per month. A smaller group (about 17 percent) would see an average decrese in benefits of about $13 per month, according to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees. NARFE, for obvious reasons, is leading the charge to modify the WEP law. It has a fact sheet on how WEP works, and what the changes would mean.

Today on our Your Turn radio show, Jessica Klement and John Hatton from NARFE will explain how WEP works, what changes it would mean in your Social Security benefit and where the campaign to modify it is going. That’s 10 a.m. today at www.federalnewsradio.com or 1500 AM in the D.C. area. If you have questions for John and Jessica, you can email them to me, before show time, at: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com.

Military Benefits Planning: Members of the Armed Forces have lots of financial decisions to make whether they are short-timers or in for a full career. And some benefit changes may be in the works. Some are well known, others not so much. For the second half of Your Turn we’ll talk with retired Brig. Gen. Mike Meese about what’s in the pending Defense Authorization Act., and major and long-overdue perk that’s come to the military TSP plan.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Linus and his sister Lucy joined the cast of the Peanuts comic strip in 1952.

Source: Northern Connection

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